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Irregular periods and getting pregnant

Having an irregular period is something that many women experience. Sometimes you may not notice the irregularity, as the duration of a cycle can vary a lot for some women. However, in some cases, irregular periods can lead to fertility issues. Around 40% of diagnosed infertility cases present irregular menstrual cycles. This is a big number, considering that there are many undiagnosed infertility cases too.

What is considered an irregular period?

An irregular period happens when menstruations are more than 35 days or less than 21 days apart. Sometimes a cycle can last longer than 90 days, in which case we are talking about amenorrhea or absence of menstruation. If a menstrual cycle tends to be very long, it can be a sign that ovulation is absent or infrequent.

For short menstrual cycles, ovulation can happen very early on. Also, the luteal phase between ovulation and your next period may be shorter than normal. A short luteal phase can lead to miscarriage because there is not enough progesterone to sustain the pregnancy. Hence, you get an early period.

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What can cause an irregular period?

  • Hormonal fluctuations (may be temporary due to stress or other recent changes)
  • Medication abuse
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia)
  • Stress or anxiety (excess cortisol can affect your menstrual cycle)
  • Changing birth control pills
  • Chemotherapy
  • Excessive coffee consumption
  • Endometriosis or uterine fibroids
  • PCOS
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Hyperthiroidism
  • Illness (diabetes, liver disease etc.)
  • Breastfeeding

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When your menstruation is irregular, your ovulation will also be very irregular. Also, a developing pregnancy depends on healthy hormonal levels. When you have irregular periods, most likely your hormones are also out of balance. In this case, it may be hard to sustain a pregnancy. Fortunately, there are methods to help you regulate your menstrual cycles.

How to regulate your menstrual cycle

  • Make sure you eat a healthy diet that includes all food groups. Avoid junk food, as well as fast food. Additives and preservatives can be very toxic for your body. Hearty cooked meals are the best for the health of the reproductive system. Good fats are also very important for hormonal health. The best are: butter, lard, avocado oil and coconut oil. Omega 3 fatty acids also play a big role in regulating hormones. Seafood is a great source of Omega 3.
  • Do regular exercises, but nothing too strenuous. Intensive long workouts can stop a menstrual cycle. Women athletes normally don’t experience menstruation during intensive training periods. Long walks, yoga or tai chi are ideal for balancing hormones. Being too sedentary can lead to many health issues.
  • Acupuncture can have a really powerful effect when it comes to regulating a menstrual cycle. There are also herbs and supplements that can be taken. However, it is important to know the cause of the irregular periods before you try alternative medicine. Sometimes the cause can be a uterine dysfunction or internal trauma that one may not be aware of.

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In order to determine why your periods are irregular, your gynaecologist might need to do a few tests. This includes checking the health of your thyroid gland, a full pelvic examination, an ultrasound and a PAP smear. If you plan to get pregnant, it may be worth while talking to a fertility specialist. He may have more experience in fertility issues caused by irregular periods.

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